Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has asked nine major oil companies to collaborate with their franchisees to help eliminate synthetic drugs from retail locations operating under their brand names, including gas station and convenience stores. 

The use of synthetic marijuana, also called 'spice' has increased dramatically over the past several years, and some gas stations and convenience stores affiliated with large oil companies have been selling synthetic drugs.

Fox said the manufacture and sale of such drugs in Montana is already illegal.

"In the 2013 legislature, my office brought a bill that was sponsored by Representative Tom Berry from the Roundup area to criminalize the manufacture, sale or possession of synthetic drugs like 'spice' ," Fox said. "These drugs mimic actual drugs and they're made through chemistry to avoid regulation. So, using the vary capable scientists in our state crime lab we came up with the basic building blocks for all of these synthetic drugs and put that into statute."

Fox said many retail gas stations and convenience stores have been selling these synthetic drugs, and there is a nationwide effort to halt this activity.

"Companies like Phillips 66, BP and Exxon and their retail outlets have been selling these drugs," Fox said. "So, we've expressed our concern by signing a letter with 43 other attorneys general asking these companies to prohibit their franchisees from selling these products."

A news release from Fox's office states,  "In 2010, more than 11,000 people, many of whom were younger than 17, went to the emergency room after using synthetic marijuana. Since then, thousands more have been harmed by synthetic drugs. In 2014, one health department reported a 220% increase in emergency room visits due to the ingestion of synthetic marijuana. Over this same period, enforcement agencies confirmed more than 130 instances of branded gas stations having sold synthetic drugs."

"The state and territorial attorneys general offices that signed today’s letter are: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin."